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German President Arrives In Israel To Meet Rivlin, Netanyahu, Abbas

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (right) and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) wave as they visit Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda Market on May 6.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has sought to move past recent tension with Israel, saying ties between the two countries are too important to start a fight over whom a delegation chooses to meet.

"We don't need new rules, and we should not impose any limitations" on which civil organizations can be met, said Steinmeier after meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on May 7.

Steinmeier's visit comes amid a diplomatic row between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Netanyahu canceled an April 25 meeting with the visiting Gabriel, after the German foreign minister met with rights groups critical of the Israeli government.

Steinmeier is not scheduled to meet with any controversial group.

He was to meet Netanyahu later on May 7.

Similar disputes have arisen in the past between visiting foreign officials and Israel's government.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP